SoCalGas keeps gas flowing in California, passing 1st summer test

SoCalGas

As temperatures in Los Angeles rose earlier in the week, SoCalGas was able to keep fuel supplies flowing and no blackouts were noted.  Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images photo.

SoCalGas forced to shut Aliso Canyon facility after leak last fall

June 22 (Reuters) – U.S. natural gas utility Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) kept fuel supplies flowing as temperatures rose this week, passing its first test of the summer since the closure of its Aliso Canyon storage facility.

SoCalGas, a unit of California energy company Sempra Energy, shut Aliso Canyon after detecting a massive leak in October. The company plugged the leak in February.

As residents in the Los Angeles area cranked up their air conditioners, SoCalGas said it delivered about 3.3 billion cubic feet of gas and received 3.2 bcf from pipelines, using 0.1 bcf from storage other than Aliso Canyon.

With cooler weather on Tuesday, however, deliveries fell to an estimated 2.9 bcf, while pipeline receipts were expected to reach 3.1 bcf, allowing some injections back into storage.

In the summer, the utility strives to completely fill the 86.2-bcf Aliso Canyon to prepare for the upcoming winter heating season when gas demand peaks. In January, state regulators ordered SoCalGas to reduce the amount of gas in Aliso Canyon to just 15 bcf because of the leak. That 15 bcf is being held to reduce the risk of gas curtailments and power interruptions this summer.

Aliso Canyon, located in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, is the biggest of SoCalGas’ four storage fields. It provides service to the region’s 17 gas-fired power plants, refineries and other key parts of California‘s economy.

SoCalGas forecast demand this summer would peak around 3.2 bcf, with power generators using over 1.9 bcf, noncore large industrial customers like refineries using 0.6 bcf and core mostly residential customers using 0.6 bcf.

While the SoCalGas system can accept up to 3.875 bcf of pipeline supplies, it usually only moves about 3 bcf and has not received more than 3.4 bcf per day at any time in the last five years, leaving storage to make up the difference.

SoCalGas’ three remaining storage facilities have a combined withdrawal capacity of 1.7 bcfd, but cannot make up for all of Aliso Canyon’s capability to support demand in the Los Angeles Basin because they are smaller or located too far away.

SoCalGas has said it hopes to return the facility to partial service by the end of the summer, but cannot inject gas into the field until it inspects all 114 wells.

As of June 17, SoCalGas said it completed integrity tests on 23 wells, nine of which have already been approved by state regulators.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino)

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